Disclosing Problems when Selling a House

Disclosing Problems when Selling a House


Disclosing Problems when Selling a House

Sellers want to sell “as is” and buyers want to know the complete history of a property. How do these opposing viewpoints come together to make it to closing? The short answer is—with disclosures!  Full disclosure is required and buyers want to (and should) know what they are buying—the good, the bad and everything in between. The end goal is a happy buyer who knows the ins and outs of the property and a seller who can sleep soundly at night knowing he sold a home with no secrets.

Who has to disclose?

As a seller (in most instances), you are legally required to provide a property disclosure.  The Texas Property Code sets forth guidelines on who, when and what must be disclosed. All single-family residential sales must include a seller’s disclosure, with these common exceptions: a foreclosure sale, an administrator of an estate or trust, a spouse or lineal heir and new construction that has never been occupied.  It is important to note that a “For Sale by Owner” sale is NOT exempt from the requirement, even if there is no Agent involved. In general, most residential sales require a disclosure notice.

How much to disclose?

The Texas Association of REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice is 5 pages and covers everything from the age of the roof to the current utility providers. However, some disclosures are more complicated than just marking a box on the form. Specialty disclosure items such as hauntings, deaths on the property, environmental contaminants and previous drug manufacturing all have guidelines to follow in order to make sure you properly disclose.  It’s impossible to go into every possible abnormal scenario; but as a general rule, even if you are not required to do so, it is in your best interest to disclose it.  These are not the good kind of secrets.  As a seller, you want to be the source of the disclosure and avoid any potential litigation. It is nearly guaranteed that your “secret” won’t stay that way forever. It will come out eventually—probably when a nosy neighbor chats up the buyer when welcoming them to the neighborhood. Don’t even go there!  Tell your own secrets and protect yourself from any potential problems by being honest about all issues.

Truth vs. Secrets

The bottom line when it comes to disclosure is simple and used often in the world of real estate—disclose, disclose, disclose. Many sellers worry about scaring buyers away.  Well, the truth is, you might—and that’s OK! The truth is the truth and honesty is always the best policy. This is likely the biggest asset in most people’s lives and is not a time for shadiness.

Disclosure forms are sort of like a brief history of the property. It gives the buyer general information on the structural and mechanical systems and also notifies them of any ongoing issues, hazards or past problems. Don’t assume this is a bad thing—it’s only bad if you try to conceal things! Disclosing the whole truth is not going to scare away buyers, it will protect you. After all, harboring a secret is much harder than sharing it!


Lisa E. Priest is a local Broker/REALTOR® and Property Manager with Picket Fence Realty, Inc. You can reach her via phone or text at 903-948-3343 or read more at BuyPalestine.com.